EU draft decision to fine Microsoft; potentially strip Media Player from Windows or include QuickTim

“European regulators considered forcing Microsoft Corp. to change the way it sells its Windows software around the world but decided to limit the draft order to Europe to avoid charges of overreaching, according to sources familiar with the case,” Paul Geitner reports for The Associated Press. “The last-minute debate came just before the lengthy decision was sent electronically to the 15 EU national antitrust offices last Friday for final review, the sources said on condition of anonymity.”

“Initially there was no reference to geographic scope–an omission noticed while it was circulating this month among other branches of the EU’s executive Commission for discussion. While some in Competition Commissioner Mario Monti’s circle then argued for making it global, others with responsibility for trade and single market issues warned that doing so could make the EU look hypocritical on the issue of ‘extraterritoriality’ –a sore subject with Washington especially,” Geitner reports.

“The draft decision finds Microsoft violated EU competition law by bundling its media player into Windows, and by failing to provide competitors in the server market with enough programming code to make their products operate as well with Windows as Microsoft’s own,” Geitner reports. “Sources say the Commission intends to order fines for the past infringements and set standards for server interoperability that Microsoft will have to meet, while allowing Microsoft to work out the details of how to meet them.”

Geitner reports, “The EU proposed last August that Microsoft could settle the media player half of the case by agreeing either to strip its program from Windows or add those made by rivals such as RealNetworks Inc. and Apple Computer Inc. as well. One source said the draft decision contains a ‘clear recipe’ on that issue, but would not elaborate.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, folks, it’s “news for lawyers” day today, it seems. At least there’s some news. Lately, it’s been slow. Hint: the Apple Mac news dry spell may be ending shortly… developing…


  1. The windows have serious cracks and the gates are weakening. What was once thought a stronghold by its creators, now, has irreparable flaws. Not only will this allow the stronger and more malleable minority to seep in, but it will allow light to stream through into a world where people were lulled into believing their dark confinement was a form of security.

  2. We could use a little Mac news excitement. I personally won’t be in the market to buy a new Mac until later on this year, but it would be fun to read about some new ones at least sometime soon. Aside from the Xserve and the 1.8 G5 going dual processor, it’s been about 4-5 months now since anything has seen an update and that was just the iBooks. It’s been 6 months almost now for the PowerBooks, PowerMacs and iMacs…and hell, almost 10 months since the eMac went to 1GHz. I’m just holding out hope that it’ll all be worth the wait. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  3. I don’t get this. Microsoft has bludgened its competitors. It drove Netscape almost out of existance. It stole video encrypting from Apple, it illegally coerces those it works with to follow their designs, and on.. and on..
    And after all this the US gives up trying to fight them and the Europeans are only going to require that they include Real and QuickTime with Windows.
    I guess crime really does pay.

  4. some of the sourcecode for the original .avi compression was line for line copyied from the quicktime source code.

    Or so the story goes. I think there was a lawsuit about it in the early 90’s.

  5. IIRC, Microsoft hired some San Francisco company to do media software which happened to have access to QuickTime source code. QT code “somehow” made it into MS software. That $150M MS invested back when Jobs came back to Apple was partly to settle this dispute among other patent disputes. Contrary to popular belief, that S150M was not MS saving Apple or anything like that since it was miniscule compared to Apple’s assets.

    Personally, I vote for barring any software from bundled or integrated with Windows. That will prevent MS from doing the same thing in the future in other market (say virus/firewall softwares or search a la Google). If MS is forced to bundle other softwares, they still can play dirty by tightly integrating their own softwares into core OS services while changing enough APIs so that competing softwares don’t work well.

  6. Why should it? Before you say things like “But Apple is allowed to bundle QuickTime”, go teach yourself about monopoly. In short, monopoly is not illegal, but leveraging it to raise a barrier of entry or gain entry to a secondary market is illegal. Apple is not a monopoly.

  7. It’s funny, but the law is also supposed to deny the criminal the gains from its crimes. Neither the US settlement nor the European one are doing anything of the sort.

    I also like the way Microsoft can use IP as an excuse to weasel itself out of the more effective remedies. It seems IP is the new god to worship nowadays. Damn, I should’ve gone into law!

  8. [It’s funny, but the law is also supposed to deny the criminal the gains from its crimes. Neither the US settlement nor the European one are doing anything of the sort.]

    Imagine the pure rush of power, knowing you can continue to build your 25,000 sqft house from your ill-gotten fortune, because the govt. seems to believe that corporate elitism is to be promoted. And you can go for breaking the same law for a THIRD time, because the law will only put up a fa�ade of trying to curb your behavior.

    What a system. Every person is equal, if they have money.

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